I was packing up my briefcase today before I travel, and remembered a little book I used to carry in my briefcase, and put away a few years ago. It was about Gratitude, and I loved the stories in it, it was by Melody Beatie, I think. I don’t mean to sound like Goody Two Shoes with my messages to you, but I figure that we’re all in this together, and not every day is easy, in fact some days are damn hard, for any of us. And if I can encourage or inspire you to see things differently sometimes, I figure it’s a fair trade, because when I read your messages to me, you so often warm my heart and encourage and inspire me. I love the messages you write me. Thank you!!
There were several stories in the book, but there was one that particularly resonated for me, which is why I dragged it around with me until the book became dog eared, and then put it in my bookcase so it didn’t fall apart. The story I loved was about a house she had bought years before, possibly her first house, and it was the only one she could afford. It was in a bad neighborhood, the house was in bad shape, a major fixer-upper, and as she put it, it was just plain ugly and even once she bought it, she found she hated the house. She tried to do a few things to doll it up, and finally gave up on any kind of improvements, and decided that making the house beautiful was hopeless. So instead of working on it, she just sat there and cried every night, hating the house more and more. And she couldn’t afford to buy a better one, or move, or spend much money to improve it. She said she cried for months, and was totally miserable there. I don’t know what turned things around, but sometimes after you’re miserable enough, something changes or clicks in, and you decide to try and accomplish the impossible anyway. Crying every night is wearing. So she tried to do one thing to improve it. The result wasn’t fabulous, but she said it looked a little better. It was some very small improvement, like pretty clean shelf paper in the kitchen. So encouraged by that, she did one more small thing. And then another, and then she bought some paint and painted something ugly into a better color. And inspired by the minor changes, she did more, and more. She made a lot of small changes, and she didn’t turn the place into a palace, or even a gorgeous house, but she said that as she worked on these small projects every night, instead of crying, she started to love the place, even as ugly as it was. And after months of small changes, she actually loved the house. And the overall look of the place had improved—-the house hadn’t moved to a better neighbourhood, it wasn’t gorgeous, but it suddenly felt like a home, her home, and she really began to love it. And once she loved it, and had tried to make it better, something happened in her life, a series of fortuitous circumstances, and she was able to move to a better house, and she was actually sad to leave the house she had come to love. And the new house was a huge improvement in her life.
I liked the story because it reminded me that sometimes you have to embrace a circumstance you really don’t like, or even hate. The more you complain or try to run away from it, the worse it seems to get. And only when you’re willing to embrace a situation, in all its misery and ugliness does something actually change. How many times have we had jobs we really hate, with a nasty boss or co-workers, or an apartment in a building, or a home with neighbours who make your life miserable? Or a family situation you think you just can’t change. And believe me, I can complain with the best of them when I’m not happy about something. And I’m not always a good sport about it!!! But only when I stop bitching about it, and wailing, accept my fate as it is at that moment, and really accept it and try to improve it right where I am….only then does the situation actually improve, and someone mean gets nicer, or an opportunity comes along that allows me to make a change. Her point with the story was that only when she got truly grateful for the ugly house, and love it, and work on it, did a better house come along. It was a good reminder to me that sometimes we have to embrace situations we don’t like, and do our best to change them right where we are, before things actually change. And then suddenly the blessings are abundant, and things turn out much better than we hope.
The story applies to a lot of things, where we live, where we work, who we hang out with, family battles, or even the holiday plans we’re faced with that are not the ones we want. So I’m sharing the story with you, because I really like the story of the ugly house she came to love….and then she got a better one.
It’s a good reminder to me to embrace the situations I don’t like, and be grateful for what I do have. I have a feeling that she’s right, and things don’t change until we learn to love what we’ve got, and the situation we’re in. It’s something to think about.
And as we head into these last few days before the holidays, my wish and prayer for you is that these days are gentle and easy, as much as merry and bright!!! May all your Christmas wishes come true, and may you be surrounded by those you love, and I hope they are kind to you. And I hope you bring the light and warmth of the holidays to someone else’s heart as well.
A thousand good wishes to you, and all my love, Danielle